The Yuletide season is a great period to relax and spend some quality time with family and friends. And going by recent cinema numbers, going to the movies with loved ones is still a preferred way of doing just that.
According to records from the Nigerian Movie Exhibitors Association, the number of cinema audiences in the country reached exploded during the season, resulting in a commensurate increase in cinema revenue.
Cinemas in the country admitted a total of 238,110 people during the Yuletide peak period of December 24th to December 30th, 2022. This resulted in a cumulative gross profit of over 500 million naira, a more than 700 per cent increase from the 63 million recorded in the final week of November.
When compared to the same period the previous year, the statistics showed a considerable rise of over 200 million naira, accounting for a 40% increase in income due to the relaxation of COVID-19 limits.
However, cumulative gross revenue for the entire yuletide season between December 3, 2021, and December 30, 2021, shows a figure that sits well above 800 million naira as moviegoers seem to want a glimpse of motion picture pictures.
Cinema enthusiast and On-Air-Personality at Trend FM Asaba, Nnamdi Atupulazi, while analysing the numbers with Technext, attributed these large figures to the fact that many people are tired of sitting indoors due to the lockdowns and were eager to explore whenever they could.
More people preferred to see movies at the cinema than do so at home. They were likely tired of the latter, so they warmed up to the former. It also appears that most of those who started to go to the cinema fell in love with the experience and have adopted the practice as a habit.
He also attributed the increased interest to new cinema houses that have sprung up in the past year. According to him, more cinema houses means more competition, and more competition means more adverts (billboards, radio, tv, social media, etc).
“So you can bet that in the past one year a good number of people started going to the cinema because of adverts or the influence of friends who were themselves influenced by adverts,” he noted.
74% decline in the first weeks of January
Despite the impressive numbers recorded during the Yuletide, reports from the exhibitors’ association, however, revealed a huge drop in box office income grosses. This indicates that moviegoers are rapidly withdrawing from the once packed cinemas.
According to the reports provided on the CEAN website, as the festivities fade and people prepare for the New Year, the number of moviegoers has decreased as recent 7-day reports reveal a 70% drop, with cinemas witnessing admission of 69,982 people in the weekend gross of the second week of the New Year.
This represents a 70% decline from the Yuletide numbers and Nnamdi thinks it is as expected as everything that has to do with entertainment peaks during festive periods.
“People go to the cinema for different reasons, but it’s easy to see why cinemas are busier during Christmas than other times. It is for the same reason that Nigerian roads, hotels, amusement parks, bars, clubs, etc experience more activities/traffic during Christmas,” he said.
Nollywood movies enjoy some success as Spiderman, No Way Home leads the pack
Marvel’s Spiderman: No Way Home earned a massive 230,131,949 naira during its second week in the cinemas, accounting for 53% of the overall profit for the Yuletide period under review.
Presently, it retains its position as the number one movie at the box office even after five weeks of showing at cinemas. However, its current weekend gross sits a little above 16 million naira.
Nollywood’s Christmas in Miami raked in 127,608,800 naira, during the week under review, making it the second highest-grossing film in Nigerian cinemas during the festivities.
This success is followed by another Nollywood motion picture as Filmone’s Aki & Paw Paw, which was in its second week of showing at the box office in the week of review, came in third place.
Although Nollywood movies continue to trail behind their foreign counterparts at the box office, the numbers recorded during the festivities have shown possibilities of greater improvements and, peradventure, a Nigerian box office chart dominated by local content.
During the 7-day period that marked the major highlights of the Yuletide, a total of 11 Nollywood movies made the chart, grossing a cumulative revenue of 175 million naira, which makes up 35% of the total box office revenue.
These figures are down by 44% from the same figures of the preceding year when Nollywood movies made a total of 240 million, or 79% of the total revenue for the peak week. Our analyst, Nnamdi attributed Nollywood’s mixed fortunes on the charts to both quality of the movies, popularity of the producers and the status which some Nigerians think not watching local movies confers upon them.
“Many Nigerians just prefer foreign movies in order to be seen as classy. Many of them even go as far as boasting about it. So no matter how impressive the quality of a Nollywood movie is, some people in the above category may never watch it. It’s almost a complex thing. In addition, Hollywood producers are way more popular, so their productions very often draw global interest while Nollywood producers are usually limited to Nigeria or within some parts of West Africa in terms of popularity.
Interestingly, cinema attendance in the country continues to remain significant despite the stifling competition from video-on-demand platforms like Netflix. But our analyst thinks the current fight we see from cinemas in the face of the VoD takeover might not last very long.
“More and more people are buying smart TVs to which they can connect Netflix or other VoD services and watch movies on the big screen as opposed to phone and computer screens. Also, the cost of seeing one movie at the cinema sometimes can almost pay a month’s VoD subscription. Given the grim economic conditions in Nigeria, your guess is as good as mine as to which option the majority of Nigerians may opt for,” he concluded.
Whether it’s the cinemas awarding moviegoers more incentives for attendance or the growing need for social interaction amply met by the cinemas, the cinemas still remain a favourite destination for many Nigerians.
But in the face of VoD companies like Netflix that are bringing diverse content to people in the comfort of their homes, the current resurgence enjoyed by cinemas may not last very long.
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